In just one short month, I’ll be on my way to an adventure overseas through a study abroad program. I’m one of the lucky few who will be able to spend a full four months living, working, and studying in a foreign city and foreign country, and I’ll also be getting to travel throughout Europe. It’s easy for me to feel excited about this great adventure, but I’ve met many students who think studying abroad is either a waste of time or an interference in their educational and/or career paths. If you’re one of those people, or even just trying to figure out if you want to study abroad, then I’m here to tell you there are plenty of valid reasons why studying abroad is both good for you as a person, and, as it turns out, good for your career.
1. It Exposes You to New People, Ideas, and Cultures
When I was researching study abroad options, one of the biggest ideas I heard and read about was how many experiences with new cultures and people I would have. The reality is, you gain new experiences and perspectives no matter where or what type of study abroad program you attend. No country or community shares the exact same set of values, beliefs, or daily habits, and living outside of your comfort zone forces you to think about the ways in which other people’s cultural values may be just as valuable, even if they’re different from your own. This totally expands your worldview, which helps you to understand more in the classroom and prepares you to work with all kinds of people, whether you’re just starting or you’re in the midst of your career.
2. It Diversifies Your Resume and Educational Experiences
Believe it or not, studying abroad actually looks great on your resume. Most students list their study abroad experiences in their education section, which invites future employers to ask more questions about your education. Some employers think every college education is the same, even if it’s not, so having a college listed in a foreign country really makes you stand out. Also, there are some study abroad programs that allow you to intern for a company or organization in your host country. This gives you a professional experience that looks killer on your resume.
3. It’s the Best Way to Learn a Second Language
Many college students use study abroad to immerse themselves in a foreign language that they’ve been studying in school. The reality is that it’s impossible to become fluent in a language without exposure and practice, which can be very difficult to get in a classroom setting (especially those college classes that focus on literature as opposed to conversational skills). Studying abroad requires you to quickly amp up your language skills, and using the language every day helps you work toward fluency.
4. It Helps You Become More Independent and Adaptable to Change
Being abroad forces you out of your comfort zone and requires you to adapt to a new environment in a short time period. This helps you think independently and essentially forces you to be adaptable to change. Employers love independent thinkers who are able to adapt well to new environments. The interpersonal skills you gain from studying abroad become so apparent to future employers (especially those who studied abroad when they were in college).
5. You Make Connections with People All Over the World
Studying abroad exposes you to professors, students, and international students in your program. Everyone always says that building connections is essential to getting a job, so think about how valuable it is to build connections with people in other countries. If you want to travel in your future career, then building these connections can really help employers see why you’d be a good person to be in a traveling position, and it also helps improve your interpersonal skills.
6. You Have a Range of Educational Options Open to You That You May Not Get at Your College
Every college is different. Large or small, each college or university may lack some advantages that other colleges offer. Studying abroad allows you to explore some of those opportunities without transferring schools. You can take classes that aren’t offered in your home college, participate in activities with people around the world, and go to museums and historical sites that you’d never be exposed to without studying abroad.
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